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Meet Hyang-Geum, a host in Korea who has found new purpose and joy in life through hosting. We’re delighted to have her tell her story in her own words.

The happiest moments in my life these days are when I wait for the guests visiting my home. The thrill I get knowing someone from a different part of the world is visiting me, and the pride I feel when I think someone will enjoy the meal I’ve prepared, puts a smile on my face. I felt so hopeless when my husband passed away after a sudden accident. Sure, there was the emptiness and loneliness coming from his absence, but I also couldn’t ignore the financial problems. Since I was a housewife for a long time, I didn’t have an income and hadn’t engaged in social activities for a while.

When my kids moved out of the nest and I was left alone in my home, I felt confused like an adolescent girl. Then a close neighbor of mine introduced me to Airbnb. That was the beginning of hosting and how I started to manage the financial struggles after losing my husband. The income from sharing my two spare rooms helps me make ends meet. The empty rooms are now filled with warmth. I no longer feel lonely thanks to the guests who often feel like my kids and friends.

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People say you don’t have to prepare much in advance to host, but I wanted my home to make a statement. So I planted flowers and trees and made a small pond in the garden on my rooftop. At first I planted any plant I liked here and there without any order. But this year, I planted flowers with flowers and vines with vines in their most suitable spots.

I put my heart into gardening and hosting and naturally, both became well-organized as time passed. I changed the breakfast menu to things that guests like, and I created a simple walking course around the neighborhood—along Seokchon Lake to Lotte World with a couple of things to see along the way.

I’ve found the hidden talent inside of me as I greet and guide my Airbnb guests. Through hosting, I feel stronger and more independent.

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Dreaming about how I can make my guests’ trips more fun and meaningful as a voluntary guide is so great. Many travelers only stay in Seoul, and it’s too bad they don’t see other parts of Korea! Guests can experience more of the Korean tradition if they visit a peaceful, small, local community away from the city.

Every day, I think of ways to let foreigners experience something different. After I started hosting on Airbnb, a lot of changes took place inside of me: I own and live my life. I’ve become confident living a happy life without depending on others. I’ve learned that it’s never too late to gain confidence.

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